Conventionally sol-gel spray-on transducers require a high-temperature (>700°C) sintering process; however, this process can affect the microstructure of the substrate material. For mechanical elbows and valves utilized for fluid transport in the energy sector, the components are designed to have a specific microstructure, and deviations from these specifications can create weak points in the system. For this reason it is important to investigate how the temperature of the deposition process affects the substrate. This paper investigates the effect of high-temperature and low-temperature (<150°C) processing conditions on the surface composition of the substrate. Furthermore, the resultant transducers from high- and low-temperature fabrication processes are compared to determine if a low-temperature processing method is feasible. For these studies a sol-gel spray-on process is employed to deposit piezoelectric ceramics onto a stainless-steel 316L substrate. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy is utilized to determine the composition of the substrate surface before and after transducer deposition. Results indicate that the high-temperature processing conditions may alter the surface composition of the metal due to a diffusion of the metal into the ceramic, which results in a metal surface that is bonded to the ceramic. Furthermore, it is shown that low-temperature processing of spray-on transducers is a viable method for transducer fabrication where the resultant transducers meet the industry minimum requirement of 30 dB signal-to-noise ratio. In parallel simulation calculations, finite-element method (FEM) studies were performed to model the adhesive strength of the low-temperature processed transducer to the substrate surface. Comparisons between the simulations and experiments suggest that the bond strength is much greater than the commercial gel bonds and closer to hardened epoxy glue bonds. These results indicate that spray-on transducers fabricated under low-temperature processing conditions are a viable solution for leave-in-place monitoring of structures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering